If you’re not looking for a behemoth of a cat, but are instead in the market for a feline that stays kitten-like forever, then you may be interested in any of these small cat breeds. They’re small in size, but big in personality, cuddles, and love to give. Many of these kitties are naturally tiny, while some of the absolute smallest cat breeds are derived from one particular cat, the Munchkin.
When you think of cat breeds that stay small, you probably think of the Munchkin cat. The short legs on a Munchkin cat are not a result of selective breeding but rather a natural genetic mutation. Despite some controversy over the breed, Munchkin cats don’t appear to have major associated health issues.
Munchkin cats are extremely outgoing and active. They don’t realize that they are smaller than most cats or behave differently because of their height (or lack thereof). Instead, they find new ways to lovingly wreak havoc and entertain their families.
These kitties are able to move very quickly, turning more easily and nimbly than other cats. Of course, they aren’t the best jumpers—so providing them with easy access to their litter box and various levels of cat furniture will boost their confidence.
Toybob cats are truly forever kittens, weighing in at a whopping 3 to 7 pounds. This breed was first documented in 1980s Russia when a seal-point cat with a kinked bobbed tail was bred with another short-tailed seal-point feline. The pairing resulted in a tiny cat with a bobbed tail. The Toybob is not bred for their smaller size, nor are they miniaturized versions of any other breed—they are just naturally teeny!
While the breed is rare, Toybobs are known to be special kitten-sized companions. They are affectionate, sociable cats that get along with everyone, including other pets. They follow their family members around and look for any chance to sit on a lap for cuddles.
The Singapura is commonly thought of as one of the smallest cat breeds. This cat originated on the streets of Singapore and was first brought to the United States in the 1970s by two expat brothers. Besides their tiny frame, the breed is recognized for their ticked tabby coat pattern, sepia or brown colors, and big bright eyes.
These tiny kitties have big personalities and thrive in social settings. Singapuras are the perfect size for a lap and love to cuddle. They are also mischievous, clever cats whose small bodies might have you child-proofing your cabinets.
The Devon Rex cat appears to part poodle with their unique wavy coats and part elf with their large, pointy ears. This breed is small, lightweight, and compact but displays oversized features that give them a striking, disproportionate look. Modern Devon Rex cats can trace their lineage to one feral cat with the wavy coat mutation, found in Buckfastleigh, Devonshire, England.
While these felines appear as pixie-like creatures that might be flighty and hard to capture, the Devon Rex is quite affectionate and people-oriented. They do, however, have a mischievous side—but their cute antics are just that: cute!
The Japanese Bobtail cat is a pint-sized breed with pint-sized tails. Their tails are formed due to a harmless and natural genetic mutation, and they resemble that of a bunny tail: short and tufted. This breed was first recorded in Japan in the early 1600s when they were released into the streets to help maintain the rat population that was infiltrating silkworm farms.
Japanese Bobtails are intelligent and love to learn new ways to interact with their humans. They are athletic and energetic, but prefer to wind down with their favorite humans each night, transitioning from running laps around the kitchen to being snuggly lap cats.
The American Curl cat sports ears that curl back naturally at a 90-degree angle, a unique genetic mutation not seen in other cat breeds. Although the mutation has likely been around for centuries, this breed was not formally recognized until the 1980s.
Besides their highly distinctive ears, the American Curl is known for their smaller size and curious personality. They are friendly and affectionate with their humans, making them a great family cat. This is a breed that loves a good cuddle and scratches from their favorite people.
With their luscious white coat, the Turkish Angora cat may appear larger than they actually are. This small feline is one of the oldest naturally occurring cat breeds, having likely originated in the cold, mountainous regions of Turkey centuries ago.
Although sometimes confused with Turkish Van cats, Turkish Angoras are typically much smaller. On top of their beauty, they are playful, energetic cats that love to be with their humans. Although not necessarily lap cats, Turkish Angoras are mild-tempered and known for being a sweet, gentle breed.
The curly-coated Cornish Rex cat is small and spry like their cousin the Devon Rex. These cats have large ears and eyes that give them an alien-like appearance that’s both inquisitive and attentive. As a breed, they are active and athletic—their small bodies allow them to jump and move more efficiently throughout their personal playgrounds (AKA, your house).
The Cornish Rex is known for being easy to handle and a lover of being held and cuddled. These fun-loving felines want to play, jump, and enjoy themselves all day. Most things are a game to the Cornish Rex, and they are easy to entertain because they find most things entertaining.
The Korat cat is somewhat rare outside their native Thailand, but their beauty and personality is worth showcasing. While these cats are smaller in size with a low percentage of body fat, they have a sturdy build and feel heavier than they appear.
This lovable and stunning cat, also referred to as Si-Sawat, stands out with their blue coloration and silvery sheen. They are small yet solid cats that love human companionship. For centuries Korats were given to brides on their wedding day to symbolize a happy and fortunate marriage—they have always been good luck charms and should be thought of as such even today.
As the third Rex cat on our list of small cat breeds, the LaPerm is a tad larger but still considered small to medium in size. Their curly hair, similar to a perm (hence the name), is a natural genetic mutation first identified in a barn cat named Curly in the 1980s. Interestingly, LaPerm kittens can be born bald or short-haired, with their curls forming in 2 to 3 years.
LaPerms are known for being affectionate, adaptable, and energetic. They love human interaction but won't demand that you pay attention to them. Since they come from barn cats, they have energy that needs to be burned—not entirely unlike working dog breeds.
Smallest cat breeds derived from the Munchkin cat
As the most famous of the small cat breeds, it’s no surprise the Munchkin cat has become a “parent breed” of many other feline pedigrees. They’ve contributed to the creation of several of the smallest cat breeds, listed below.
Dwelf cats—whose name derives from “dwarf” crossed with “elf”—get their short legs from the Munchkin, their hairlessness from the Sphynx, and their distinctive curled ears from the American Curl.
The Kinkalow is a cross between the Munchkin and the American Curl, displaying each breed’s trademark feature of short legs and curled ears. Their elegant tails are often longer than the length of their bodies!
With a dense coat, squashed face, and tiny legs, the Minuet is derived from the Persian cat and the Munchkin. For their short stature, this breed is also known as the Napoleon cat.
Like Bambinos, the Minskin breed was derived from first crossing Sphynx and Munchkin cats, and later Burmese and Devon Rex cats. At 4 to 6 pounds, Minskins are among the very smallest cat breeds.
Bonus: Additional small Munchkin cat derivations include the Lambkin cat (crossed with a Selkirk Rex) and the Skookum cat (crossed with a LaPerm).
- Munchkin: Bobbi Wu via Unsplash
- Turkish Angora: © Franzioseph / CC-BY-SA-4.0
- Korat: © Heikki Siltala / CC-BY-SA-3.0
- Kinkalow: © Kirimiti / CC-BY-SA-3.0
- Minuet: © William Parker / CC-BY-SA-4.0
- Minskin: © Paulmcsorley / CC-BY-SA-3.0